Okay, marketers: are you ready for this? Last year, our industry spent more than $42.5 billion on display ads—that’s a 22% increase from the previous year. This represents a shift; not just from traditional to digital media, but also to digital as the driver in media strategies, rather than just a piece of a greater puzzle. In other words, brands are placing bigger and more long-tail bets in digital. And this trend is only going to continue growing.
At Rational, we’ve experienced this shift firsthand. Last year we built and executed more than 400 display campaigns, which revealed many insights we wanted to share. The most important, perhaps, is how to successfully evaluate performance from display campaigns.
Okay, let’s level set
One of the biggest challenges that marketers—traditional and digital—face is how to prove impact and ROI. Digital is clearly advantageous here because, if a campaign is tracked properly, it yields innumerable data, metrics, and quantifiable goodness. So the challenge with digital is not finding data where there is none, but choosing the right metrics from the proverbial haystack.
And here’s the thing: the best metrics depend entirely upon the type of campaign you run. Brand awareness (top-funnel) campaigns are going to have very different success metrics than lead generation (bottom-funnel) campaigns. This might seem obvious, but time and time again we witness marketers and brands attempting to evaluate success based on metrics that don’t apply to the intentions of their campaigns. So, while marketers might run a brand awareness campaign, success is still often pinned on click-through rate, or other metrics that drive leads and conversion, which are truly bottom-funnel metrics.
The right metrics for the right campaigns
Now, we don’t want to say that click-through rate isn’t valuable. It is, and very much so! But there are so many metrics out there than can often better articulate success based on campaign type. We’ve provided a few below:
Top-funnel metrics Many of these metrics depend on benchmarking, so marketers should measure, for instance, their branded search prior to a display campaign in order to gauge the lift when the display campaign is running. Key Metrics: Total impressions, impressions with key audience, branded search, direct website traffic increase
Middle-funnel metrics The mid-funnel is really focused on engaging and educating prospects. When running a display campaign that is focused on education, there are several metrics that will help you understand what’s working so you can keep driving prospects down the funnel. Key Metrics: Cost per new visitor, page views, content downloads
Bottom-funnel metrics By now you’ve gained brand awareness and have educated and engaged your prospects. It’s time to turn those prospects into leads. Key Metrics: Total leads, cost per lead, opportunity contribution
Transparency is Key
One key to success is to clearly outline this POV during the planning stages of a campaign. Depending upon their marketing sophistication, many clients might be looking for leads from a brand awareness campaign. Educating them and clearly explaining the benefits of the right metrics for the right campaign goals is the best way to make sure that everyone’s satisfied.